Monday, March 28, 2011

*Sings* - 'We're all going on a zombie holiday'

Wild Wolf Publishing is releasing a whopping 600 page Zombie Anthology in June 2011 based on a zombie holiday theme and I pleased to say one of my short stories is in it. My effort is called 'The Zombie Whisperer' and the title says it all. There will be about 38 stories in all from various authors and I'm in some pretty good company here. For example:
A special short story by Night of the Living Dead co-writer, John Russo
The Walk-In’An exclusive excerpt from the screenplay for the forthcoming film sequel to Pontypool written by Tony Burgess

So keep your eyes open for 'Wish You Were Undead!' stumbling and groaning its way to your local bookshop in June!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Orbus Review

Browsing Neal Asher’s blog I noticed a review he’d posted of his novel Orbus and remembered I had also done a review when it was first published but never posted it on my blog, so here it is.

Ok, get the following ingredients: someone who’s been an engineer, a barman, a skip lorry driver, a coalman, a boat window manufacturer, a contract grass cutter and a builder, then mix them all together and you should have... Neal Asher, science fiction novelist.
I gave it a try and all I ended up with was this horrible slurry of blood, flesh and bones, I must be doing it wrong...

Review of Orbus by Neal Asher

Centuries old, Captain Orbus, infected with the Spatterjay virus which virtually makes him immortal, has taken a position onboard The Gurnard, a cargo vessel which is hoping to trade its wares in a part of the universe called The Graveyard. This is basically a no-man’s land (or no-crustacean’s land) where neither The Polity nor The Prador (huge, nasty crab-like creatures with a tendency to rip off human heads and limbs and eat them first before asking any questions or even being introduced to their next meal) have control and only entrepreneurs with the nerve and fire-power to keep themselves alive and safe rule. Orbus is trying to escape a violent and sadistic past and hoping to forget his penchant for torturing and causing suffering to almost anyone he comes into contact with. Traversing space with Orbus is an old shipmate of his called Drooble, who is himself another virus-infected individual or, Hooper, as they are known and his tastes have more of a masochistic flavour in that he actually enjoys being tortured by his old captain. Add to this strange pair, the Polity war drone Sniper and his faithful sidekick Thirteen (a sub-mind of the previous Spatterjay Warden A.I. that’s shaped like an iron seahorse with topaz eyes) who are stowaways on The Gurnard and you have The Four Musketeers From Hell and they certainly need to be as once in The Graveyard things escalate from just trading wares to fighting for their lives against a rapidly mutating Prador Vrell, an angry Prador King and his entourage, the Golgoloth (a monster that even the Prador are frightened of) and finally something that has laid dormant in the Spatterjay virus for five million years just waiting for the opportune moment to return. And guess what?
That moment has just arrived...
This is one of those books that you’ll want to read in one sitting and once finished you’ll clamour for more. Neal Asher at his bloodiest and best. Get it!

Am now reading The Technician by Neal and am just a few pages in but it looks promising

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thank you, everyone.

And so, yesterday, Anna my wife, Gareth my son-in-law and I said a final goodbye to Juliana amongst over three hundred and fifty (perhaps more) family members, friends and old colleagues who attended her funeral... who attended the celebration of her life.
The service at Lifepoint Church in Swansea was filled to capacity and the Pastors, Mike and Mick and the congregation were matchless and, for a person such as I who cannot claim to be profoundly religious, I have to say I was genuinely moved by their generosity of heart and their deep sense of family spirit.
The day passed for Anna and me as if we were floating through a dream and although I looked over the crowd of people from my viewpoint on the rostrum when I gave the eulogy I have to admit that I cannot say that the faces which looked up at me registered. I know I missed thanking many of you for attending and I apologise deeply for that. I also missed many who didn't go to the church but attended the crematorium, which again was full to capacity and had people overflowing into the foyer and to the outside. Once again I apologise for not thanking you personally. Between our house, Gareth's, my mother's house, my son Steven's and Rob and Wendy's we have had hundreds of condolences cards, I've had numerous phone calls, emails, Facebook comments and postings on my blog, and yet again I thank you all deeply from the bottom of our hearts for the love and comfort you have shown us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Funeral Details

We have the details of the funeral arrangements of our beloved daughter, Juliana who passed away 4th March 2011. There will be a celebration of her life in the church she became a member of and embraced when she married her husband, Gareth.

The church is The Lifepoint Centre, Ffynone Road, Uplands, Swansea, SA1 6BT - MAP

The church service will start at 10.30am Thursday 17th March 2011 and then onto Morriston Crematorium for a short service at 12.30pm.

There will be refreshments back at The Lifepoint Centre after. As per Juliana's wishes there will be a bouncy castle for the children in either the garden or, should the weather be inclement, arrangements will be made to have it inside.

Family flowers only but, should you wish to, donations to Ty Olwen Hospice, Morriston would be appreciated. St.James Funeral Home are available to receive donations and will forward them onwards.

Anna, my wife, and I wish to thank all who have sent their condolences and comforting words on this blog, on Facebook, by email, by card, by telegram, by phone and in person. You are too many to thank individually but please be aware that we appreciate your kind words and they have helped sustain us through this terrible time.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Juliana Elizabeth Cartwright nee Lock R.I.P.

I sit at my keyboard tonight writing the most horrific thing I have ever and will ever write. Last night 4th March 2011 at about twelve midnight our darling daughter Juliana died. She was thirty nine. Too young to die, too young to have suffered as she did and undeserving of such a terrible death. Ju was such a stoic and stalwart person and she fought her pancreatic cancer with such ferocity that she turned the months that she was given into more than three years. You may wonder why I would write this, I do it to celebrate her life and her courage and to give courage to those who are walking along the same path that she did. Some people say that you cannot battle against cancer, this may or may not be true but I can only speak from what I witnessed our dear girl manage to do and, damn did she fight it. Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to win that battle over as when symptoms begin to appear the cancer has taken such a hold that it is very difficult to contain, add to that the fact that the pancreas is not an easy organ to get to.

Ju noticed a swelling on her right side of abdomen late in 2005 but thought nothing of it until the summer of 2006 and when having it checked out was told that it was a benign serous cyst, the diagnosis was shortly changed to a solid-pseudopapillary tumour, again benign and medical opinion was to leave it alone as the operation to remove it was a major one. However as time passed and Juliana fell pregnant with her third child, Raphael (Raffy) in 2007 she started to have major problems, jaundice, weight loss, pain. She was advised to abort the foetus but that was an impossible thing to ask of our daughter and although she was in extreme pain through blocked vessels leading from the pancreas/spleen/gall bladder, was actually losing weight through the pregnancy and not putting weight on, she went to almost full term until she finally had to have a caesarean as there was risk of both her and the baby dying. Raffy was born safe and sound 14th December 2007 and is the loveliest of grandson. Juliana got worse and finally a decision was made for her to go in for surgery, two months after the caesarean, on St.Valentine’s Day 2008. The procedure is called The Whipple Procedure and took approximately eight hours and entailed removing the benign tumour. However, upon removal, the surgeon discovered a malignant tumour that had been hidden by the cyst (a number of biopsies had been done and all came back as benign) and upon identifying it was distraught to realise that the malignant tumour was also present. He removed as much of it as possible as some of it was around the portal vein, an almost octopus-like vein which carries blood to the liver from the digestive system. It was too delicate and too intricate a place to remove the entire tumour and some had to remain. She also had to have a vein taken from her arm and grafted to where one was too badly damaged. He also removed some lymph glands from the area as a precaution. Then she underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy on the area and the outlook was fairly optimistic. Her children were enthralled with the 44 staples she had across her belly that looked almost like a zipper, but she was sad she couldn’t wear a bikini anymore.

Recovery from the operation was hard as she had already depleted her reserves of energy by the pregnancy and caesarean, also add to that the fact she caught C.difficile whilst in hospital. But the worse news was twelve days later when pro-op biopsies showed there were signs of the cancer in adjoining lymph glands. However she continued with the chemo and radiotherapy and looked into changing her diet, less red meat, no sugar at all (cancer loves sugar) lots of fruit and veg (a lot juiced) tried to change her PH from acid to alkaline as cancer prefers an acidic environment, she also tried to get more oxygen into her system as cancer progresses quicker when oxygen is lacking. She started to put weight back on and feel a lot better and we were all so excited by the prospects of a remission or at least some extra time for her to raise her three children and spend time with her loving husband, Gareth.

But just before going on a holiday to Menorca with the family in May 2010 she had results back from a check-up that showed tumours in the lungs and elsewhere, the news was devastating but she still went and gave the kids a great time but was experiencing the beginnings of the pain that would stalk her until the end. Gradually she began to lose the weight she had fought so hard to win back and was told it was due to ‘cancer cachexia’ which is a wasting disease that end-stage cancer patients tend to suffer from. From what we investigated (we were both trawling the internet in the hope of finding something that would help) we found that it stops the body absorbing the fats and goodness needed to put weight on and actually takes from the fat and muscle stored in the body. We understood that the cancer more or less extracts the glucose from the tissue and leaves a by-product of lactic acid, the liver converts the lactic acid back into glucose and the cancer extracts it again, a vicious circle that cannot be broken, we tried supplements and changed her diet to include foods which would help her with energy reserves but she continued to lose weight and stabilized at 7 stone, however she was now a shadow of herself, bodily but not mentally, she would still thrash me in online games such as Warcraft etc (hi guildies!) and even in her last days beat me to a pulp in Scrabble. But the time came when however hard she fought to contain the disease the disease fought harder. But that did not deter our lovely girl. Even in horrendous pain she booked a holiday to Barbados just this last January 2011 for herself, her husband Gareth, Anna my wife and her Mum, Joseph her eldest son, Summer, her daughter and Raffy her youngest son. I didn’t go because, forgive me Ju, I have an extreme fear of flying and didn’t have the nerve to go. Upon return to the UK Juliana deteriorated and was taken into Ty Olwen Hospice to help with her medication and pain relief. She told me she was frightened that this time she would not be leaving; I said she was being silly, but she was right, as usual, and after two weeks of escalating pain and the subsequent pain relief medication to alleviate it she was sedated to help cope. Last night Anna, Gareth and I sat by her bedside as she slept and held her hands and told her to let go, she had fought long and hard and was continuing to fight with such a determination that I feel ashamed that I can be so scared to go on such a simple thing as a holiday whilst she battled against a foe that is the cruelest imaginable. Finally, in her sleep and without fear she breathed her last and left a void in our lives that all the words that have been written or could ever be written would never fill. Sleep peacefully now our darling Juliana; you deserve it, and much much more.

Love, Dad and Mam

I’d like to thank the staff of Ty Olwen for their love and kindness they showed to our daughter. I’d like to tell anyone that reads this and is a sufferer too that things are not just black and white, there are shades of grey. Research what afflicts you and try making your body an environment that cancer does not enjoy inhabiting. Juliana found out late but what she did to fight it I am sure extended her time and she used that precious time to give her love to her children and husband.

I am no cancer expert, I am no doctor, I am no expert at anything; I’m just a Dad praising his beloved daughter.